Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.



Art by Ariel Jiang

Catie Tang, Copy Editor

On January 18, 2021, the US celebrated Martin Luther’s day. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a national holiday that commemorates the United States’ famous civil-rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr. He was a Baptist minister and social rights activist who led the civil rights movement in the United States in the 1950s and ’60s. He promoted and organized peaceful protests as head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, playing a pivotal role in the March on Washington in 1963. One of his most well known events is his “I Have A Dream” speech during the March on Washington in 1963. Martin Luther King Jr. was fatally shot on April 4, 1968 as he stood on the second-floor outside his hotel room. The journey to obtaining a national holiday for King was not easy. Just four days after his death, Representative John Conyers pushed for a holiday to celebrate King. However, his request fell through. Undaunted, he recruited the help of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). For fifteen years, the CBC attempted to loosen the legislature to accept their bill, but it wasn’t until the early 1980’s did they begin to gain some traction. The CBC was able to collect 6 million signatures in support of the federal holiday to honor King. Stevie Wonder wrote a song “Happy Birthday” in tribute to the late civil-rights activist, resulting in an increase of support for the holiday. On November 4, 1983, twenty years later, Ronald Reagan signed a bill establishing the third Monday of January as Martin Luther King Jr. Day. In January 1986, the first National Martin Luther King Jr. Day was observed. However, it took years for other states to observe the holiday. Many Southern states observe the holiday in conjunction with a holiday that celebrates confederate leader Robert E. Lee. Nearly thirty years later, it wasn’t until 2000 that all the states celebrated the holiday. Now, businesses, government buildings, and schools close every third Monday of January in celebration of MLK. MLK day is often celebrated with marches, parades, and speeches by civil rights leaders and politicians. However, during the age of COVID-19, these events may not be able to take place. Instead, it will be a day to relax and reflect on civil rights issues around the world.